Friday, April 19, 2024

Ag ‘ahead of the game’ on antibiotics

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Concerted effort from vets, farmers, and industry to thank for sustainability win.
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A 43% drop in sales of veterinarian and horticultural antibiotic products indicates farmers and growers are adopting sustainable practices, which reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance.

So says Animal and Plant Health NZ chief executive Liz Shackleton. She said antimicrobial resistance is one of the top 10 global threats to human health, but these results show NZ agriculture is ahead of the game, which she attributed to a concerted effort from vets, farmers, and industry.

Sales of veterinary and horticultural antibiotics in NZ dropped a massive 43% in the five years until 2022, according to Ministry for Primary Industries data. 

“This demonstrates that our farmers and growers are adopting sustainable farming practices, including managing pests and diseases before antibiotics are needed,” she said.

By identifying animal health issues earlier and treating them quickly, Shackleton said, disease levels can be decreased and, with it, the need for antibiotics.

Practical management includes monitoring for diseases such as mastitis and vaccinating animals to help prevent animal diseases that can spread to humans, such as leptospirosis.

Other important tools in the fight against antimicrobial resistance includes maximising the long-term and preventative health benefits of vaccination, nutrition, biosecurity, disease surveillance, diagnostics, husbandry, and other animal health technologies.

Antimicrobials include antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals and antiparasitics and resistance happens when viruses, fungi, bacteria and parasites develop resistance to antimicrobials, rendering them ineffective and making infections difficult or impossible to treat. 

“Reducing reliance on antibiotics is a shared responsibility across the agriculture, human health, and environment sectors, united in a One Health approach,”  Shackleton said.

“Antibiotics must be preserved to protect the lives of people and animals. Medical and veterinary professionals, patients, parents, and owners of livestock and pets all have a role in fighting antimicrobial resistance.”

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